In mid-2016, the Episcopal Secretaries of The United Methodist Church were offered the opportunity to have their 2017 annual training in the Holy Land. The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), which also administers the Episcopal Fund that pays for episcopal office expenses and bishop salaries, budgets some of its funds to provide professional training for Episcopal office support staff. Each participant also paid a discounted rate to attend. GCFA, working with corporate sponsor Educational Opportunities (EO), developed an 8-day tour and mission opportunity for the group. Nineteen Jurisdictional and seven Central Conference Episcopal Secretaries made the journey from February 1-8. Three members of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS) were also on the trip.
On the tour, the group visited the birthplace, ministry sites and burial place of Jesus. Educational Opportunities provided experienced and knowledgeable tour guides to share the story of the Holy Land. One day of the trip focused on an educational and work project in the area. Members of the group participated in a mission opportunity at Hope School, a Christian secondary school serving Bethlehem. While there, they worked with the teachers and staff of the school. They also met and interacted with the children of the Hope School.
Mrs. Mary Bradley, Episcopal Secretary for the Upper New York Annual Conference said, “I want to thank GCFA for the opportunity to go on this trip with Educational Opportunities. It was an amazing experience to walk where Jesus walked. This trip helped increase my faith and remember the true reason that we serve God in our ministry roles as support to our Episcopal leaders.”
Mrs. DeEtta Rivens, Executive Administrative Assistant to Bishop Leeland said, “I thank GCFA for the opportunity and coordination of our time in the Holy Land. This year’s annual training of the Episcopal Secretaries was an incredible journey as we walked together upon the foundation of our administrative ministry. It was a humbling experience to actually see, touch, and walk the land of the bible. These memories will forever be etched in my mind. My bible study and reading will never be the same. I left the Holy Land enriched spiritually and emotionally.”